Kaloji Narayana Rao (9 September 1914 - 13 November 2002) more popularly known as Kaloji or Kalanna is a well known Indian freedom fighter and a political activist of Telangana. He is noted for his contributions in the social and literary fields. He was awarded the Padma Vibhushan in 1992.
Kaloji was born in Madikonda(Manigiri), a village near Kazipet Warangal in Andhra Pradesh. His father was of a Maharastrian origin, Kaloji Ranga Rao, and mother Ramabai hailing from Karnataka.
During his student days and later, he was deeply influenced by the popular movements of the time like the Arya Samaj Movement, especially the civil rights part of it, the Library Movement and the Andhra Maha Sabha Movement. The fraternal care and affection of his elder brotherKaloji Rameshwar Rao, a noted Urdu poet, played a vital role in shaping the personality of Kaloji. Kaloji participated in Andhra MahaSabha activities since its formation in 1934. He was also associated with the Arya Samaj. He actively participated in the freedom movement of the erstwhile Hyderabad State and underwent imprisonment under the Nizam. He has also participated in various social, political and literary activities in Andhra Pradesh.
His active involvement with the masses and their problems and his tireless struggle for their emancipation have naturally earned him in equal measure the love of the people and the wrath of the powers that be. He is one of those select freedom fighters of our country who were imprisoned by the feudal lords and the alien rulers before the attainment of Indian Independence and by the native leaders thereafter.
Kaloji is popularly known as Praja Kavi, meaning people's poet. Among all titles and honors he had, Praja Kavi was closest to his heart, as it took him closer to the people. He started writing poetry right from his early school days. He composed his first poem in 1931 while still in his teens, reacting emotionally to the execution of Bhagat Singh and very soon became a prominent writer and voracious reader. His writings are varied as they are numerous. They include Na Godava, a compilation of his poems in eight volumes, short stories and translations. Kaloji's Na Godava is unique both in its style and content. The great Telugu poet Sri Dasaradhi called it ' a running commentary on contemporary history'. It is essentially the poetry of dissent and an eloquent testimony to his concern for reform and courage to revolt. His other notable literary works are ' Kaloji Kathalu', 'Thudi Vijayam Manadi Jayam', 'Parthiva Vyavam' and 'Telangana Udyama Kavithalu', and translations entitled 'Na Bharata Desha Yatra' and 'Jeevana Geetha'. He also wrote extensively in Marathi, English, Urdu and Hindi. He also translated many literary works from other languages to Telugu.
He was a member of the AP Legislative Council during 1958-60. He was founder member for Andhra Saraswatha Parishathu and member Andhra Pradesh Sahitya Academy. He was the president of Telangana Rachayitala Sangham and was a Member of Glossary Committee during the period 1957-61.
Awards and honors
Kaloji was conferred the Padma Vibhushan, the second highest award given by the Government of India, for his excellent service in the literary and social fields. He is a recipient of Tamrapatra in 1972. He received the best translation award of the Andhra Pradesh Governmentfor his work 'Jeevana Geetha' in 1968 and Burgula Ramakrishna Rao memorial first award. He was felicitated by the Andhra Pradesh Government in 1981. He was honored with the title 'Praja Kavi' and has been felicitated by various literary associations of Andhra Pradesh. He was conferred the Honorary Doctorate by the Kakatiya University, Warangal in 1992 for his contributions in the field of literature.
Kaloji donated his body to Kakatiya Medical College after he died which inspired thousands of people for his selfless service